Workers’ compensation legislation introduced

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Feb. 17, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

With the February 24th deadline for introducing new bills nearing, we are starting to see more legislation that would make changes to the recent reforms in the area of workers’ compensation.  While few of the bills are of significant concern on their own, combined they could drastically increase employer costs.   

On a positive note, AB 1862 (Juan Vargas, D-San Diego) clarifies the definition of "first aid" with relation to the workers’ compensation system.  Currently, certain injuries that require only one-time treatment and do not result in lost time can be reported to an insurer as "first aid only".  This bill would expand that definition to also include a claim that requires a second visit to confirm that no further treatment is needed.  This bill is seeking to clear up the present inconsistencies in the insurance industry.  CMTA is supporting this legislation.  

In contrast, AB 1209 (Leland Yee, D-San Francisco) attempts to roll back the recent workers’ compensation reforms that have led to significant employer cost reductions.  AB 1209 would delete provisions in existing law that place strict numerical limits on the sessions of chiropractic care, physical therapy and occupational therapy.  Prior to the reforms this type of treatment was a major cost driver in workers’ compensation and the treatment limits have successfully managed that problem.  CMTA is strongly opposed to this legislation.

AB 1987 (Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara) would partially unravel the recent reforms in workers’ compensation.  It would make it significantly easier for employees to qualify for a supplemental job displacement voucher (SJDV).  The root of the problem, according to the author’s office, is that employees are not using the SJDV benefit because it is allowed only when they are permanent and stationary and not receiving any wage replacement in the form of temporary disability.  Sponsors of the bill want to make it easier for employees to use the SJDV when they are eligible.  CMTA is opposed to this legislation.

AB 1883 (Hector De la Torre, D-South Gate) would create a new "proof of insurance" law for workers’ compensation in California that could be costly to employers.  While everyone has a stake in dealing with illegally uninsured employers, employer-funds are already being used to investigate and prosecute these bad actors.  CMTA is concerned that this legislation would create additional and significant costs for the employer community.  CMTA will be opposing this legislation in its current form.

Considering the type of talk that we have heard from some legislators and labor representatives since the passage of SB 899, CMTA expects that more legislation on the topic of workers’ compensation will be introduced prior to the February 24th deadline.
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